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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Reading 1 (Acts 11:19-26)

Those who had been scattered by the persecution
that arose because of Stephen
went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch,
preaching the word to no one but Jews.
There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however,
who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well,
proclaiming the Lord Jesus.
The hand of the Lord was with them
and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
The news about them reached the ears of the Church in Jerusalem,
and they sent Barnabas to go to Antioch.
When he arrived and saw the grace of God,
he rejoiced and encouraged them all
to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart,
for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.
And a large number of people was added to the Lord.
Then he went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch.
For a whole year they met with the Church
and taught a large number of people,
and it was in Antioch that the disciples
were first called Christians.

Gospel (Jn 10:22-30)

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem.
It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
"How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly."
Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father's name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.
The Father and I are one."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Dinh Minh Tien, O.P.

 

I. THEME: Whoever belongs to God’s flock, listens to Jesus.

            There are voices or laughters which are so familiar that people don’t need to look at the one who does it, can still recognize who is it. For example, when Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, he only needed to say, “Mary!” She instantly recognized him and cried out, “Master!” Similarly, in the relationship between God and man, since God creates man according to His image and likeness, people naturally orient to the truth, love and forgiveness, especially to God who creates them.

            Today readings emphasize on the intimate relationship between God and human beings. In the first reading, the author of the Acts reported the apostles’ success in the proclamation of the Good News: since the hand of the Lord was with them, a great number who believed turned to the Lord, not only the Jews but also many Gentiles. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. In the Gospel, Jesus declared to his adversaries: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: Since the hand of the Lord was with them, a great number who believed turned to the Lord.

           

1.1/ The Good News was proclaimed beyond Israel’s territories: After the persecution, beginning with Stephen’s martyr, the disciples must be scattered around. Some went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but Jews. There were some Cypriots and Cyrenians among them, however, who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks as well, proclaiming the Lord Jesus.

            What surprised us are the conversions of many people, and in some cases, dramatic conversions as the conversion of St. Paul, the Ethiopian eunuch and Cornelius, a Roman centurion. Today passage identified the main reason of these conversions: “The hand of the Lord was with them, a great number who believed turned to the Lord.” In other words, since people always desire to know the truth, God and the eternal life, so when they listened to the disciples’ proclamation of the Good News, they recognized their desires were satisfied. This leads them to confess their faith in Christ and to be baptized.

1.2/ It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians: When the church in Jerusalem heard that many people were converted at Antioch, they sent Barnabas to establish a local church there. “When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people were added to the Lord.” His name, Barnabas, means “the son of encouragement.” Barnabas had a talent of encouragement. This shows that the leader must have an intimate relationship with God before he can guide people to God. If a shepherd didn’t listen to God’s voice, he can’t lead or encourage people to Him.

            After that, Barnabas “went to Tarsus to look for Saul,and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people, and it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” The name “christians” means “the people who follow Christ.” To follow him, they need to listen and to practice what he teaches, not merely the believers in name. In other words, the christians are Christ’s disciples; they have a duty to redraw Christ’s life for others to see and to believe in him.

2/ Gospel: “My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.”

2.1/ The Jews questioned Jesus’ identity: “The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."” The feast of the Dedication of the temple is also the feast of light (Hanukka) of the Jews. They celebrate this feast to glorify the light because in this month (December), day is shorter and night is longer. Light and darkness have a special place in the Fourth Gospel. The Jews were still in darkness because they didn’t believe in Jesus.

            What is the cause of, while hearing Jesus’ same message, some believed and some didn’t believe in him. The humble attitude while people search for the truth is the answer. If people think that they already knew the truth, they shall not be bothered to look for it. When the Jews asked Jesus the above question, they didn’t have the zeal to search for the truth; but they considered Jesus as the reason for their headache and didn’t want to change their habit of thinking. With such an attitude, how they can learn what Jesus wanted to reveal to them! Another reason is that they wanted to stay in darkness (their sins) (cf. Jn 3:19-20).

2.2/ The relationship between Jesus, His Father and people:

            (1) The relationship between Jesus and people: Jesus straightforwardly gave them the reason why they didn’t believe in him: “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.”

            They didn’t want to believe in Jesus, not because they didn’t have valid reasons to believe; but they refused to listen and to reason about what Jesus has said and done. They wanted to see miracles, Jesus did many miracles. They wanted to hear the truth, Jesus revealed to them many God’s mysteries. If they were sincere to search for the truth, they would already recognize that Jesus was sent from God. But they had seen and heard so many times that Jesus must use the prophet Isaiah’s words to describe them, “He blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they might not see with their eyes and understand with their heart and be converted, and I would heal them” (Jn 12:40).

            (2) The relationship between Jesus and the Father: Jesus said to them: "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand.The Father and I are one."

            In God’s plan of salvation, the Father gives people to Jesus by creating opportunities so they can listen to Jesus’ teaching, and sends His Spirit to enlighten so they can recognize the truth and believe in Christ. Therefore, both the Father and the son work for the same purpose which is to lead people to believe in Christ so that they can inherit eternal life. Once the believers believed in Christ, he shall protect them if they were faithful to follow his instructions. No power can touch the believers and the eternal life belongs to them (Jn 6:39-40).

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

- We have a duty to proclaim the Good News to all people in the world. All are created by God and have capacity to receive the truth.

- We belong to Christ’s flock; we must listen to recognize his voice. We must follow his guidance in order to avoid all dangers of life. 

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